In this week's New Statesman: Russell Brand guest edit

A preview of the issue, which includes contributions from Gary Lineker, David Lynch, Naomi Klein, Rupert Everett, Amanda Palmer and Alec Baldwin, as well as an essay by Russell Brand.

THE REVOLUTION ISSUE

GUEST EDITED BY RUSSELL BRAND

OUT NOW

FEATURING

AN ESSAY BY RUSSELL BRAND: BEFORE WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK

Buy the magazine now at newstatesman.com/subscribe or on iPad/iPhone via the App Store

PLUS

DAVID LYNCH RUPERT EVERETT NOEL GALLAGHER

AMANDA PALMER NAOMI KLEIN ALEC BALDWIN

DAVID SHRIGLEY GRAHAM HANCOCK GARY LINEKER

AI WEIWEI JUDD APATOW NOAM CHOMSKY OLIVER STONE

DEEPAK CHOPRA EVGENY LEBEDEV MARTHA LANE FOX

DAVID DeGRAW MOLLY CRABAPPLE HOWARD MARKS

FRANCESCA MARTINEZ DIABLO CODY

WITH EXCLUSIVE COVER ARTWORK BY SHEPARD FAIREY AND A NEW MR GEE POEM: “360° OF SEPARATION”

Russell Brand introduces his issue in a video for the New Statesman:

TOP 10 STORIES FROM THE ISSUE:

  • In a 4,500-word tour de force Russell Brand argues that while “most people do not give a f*** about politics”, they do have revolution within them
  • Naomi Klein on revolutionary science and climate change activism
  • Rupert Everett on the revolution in gay rights from the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde to gay marriage
  • Performer Amanda Palmer on crowd-funding and the revolution in artist-audience relationships
  • Gary Lineker deplores pushy parents on the touchline and calls for a revolution in the teaching of school sport
  • Noel Gallagher writes about the politicians he hates
  • Alec Baldwin on Edward Snowden, and why Americans are tired of being lied to
  • David Lynch on transcendental meditation and inner revolution
  • Activist David DeGraw calls for a do-it-yourself revolution; “modern-day shaman” Daniel Pinchbeck urges humanity to cast off its “mind forged manacles”; and best-selling author Graham Hancock hopes for a revolution in consciousness
  • Judd Apatow, Oliver Stone, Howard Marks, Martha Lane Fox and many more tell Brand what revolution means to them

COVER STORY: RUSSELL BRAND’S REVOLUTION

In an extended essay to introduce his Revolution-themed guest-edit, Russell Brand argues we need to change the way we think before we can change the world.

Brand on the British and revolution:

“We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.”

Brand on politics:

“When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework I feel a dull thud in my stomach and my eyes involuntarily glaze. Like when I’m conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic. I try to remain engaged but behind my eyes I am adrift in immediate nostalgia; “How happy I was earlier in this chat,” I instantly think. I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

On hypocrisy:

“First, though, I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution’s inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money.”

On the left’s over-seriousness:

“I felt pretty embarrassed that my involvement [in a protest] was being questioned, in a manner which is all too common on the left. It’s been said that “the right seeks converts and the left seeks traitors”. This moral superiority that is peculiar to the left is a great impediment to momentum. It is also a right drag when you’re trying to enjoy a riot.”

“Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness,

socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a f***ing laugh."

On political apathy:

“Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.”

On dealing with serious issues with humour:

“Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz. The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes.”

On spiritual revolution:

“For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals. By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised. Buckminster Fuller outlines what ought be our collective objectives succinctly: “to make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone”. This maxim is the very essence of “easier said than done” as it implies the dismantling of our entire socio-economic machinery. By teatime.”

Read Russell Brand’s essay in full in his issue and online here

THE NS ESSAY: NAOMI KLEIN

“SCIENCE SAYS: REVOLT!”

The Shock Doctrine and No Logo author Naomi Klein reports on the revolution taking place in the science world as climate change researchers, increasingly alarmed by their discoveries, decide activism is the only option:

“In order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. . . But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. . . It’s not a revolution, but it’s a start. And it might just buy us enough time to figure out a way to live on this planet that is distinctly less f**ked.”

**Read Naomi Klein’s essay in full in the issue and online from Tuesday 29 October 10:00 GMT **

 

RUPERT EVERETT: GAY RIGHTS FROM OSCAR WILDE TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

In an essay addressed to his friend Russell Brand, the actor Rupert Everett, who recently played Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, traces the history of gay rights in Britain from the playwright’s infamous imprisonment in 1895 to this year’s same-sex marriage bill - via his own experiences of the underground gay scene in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

On playing Wilde in The Judas Kiss on the day the same-sex marriage bill was passed:

“The energy in the auditorium was intense. It felt – and I was not on drugs – as if the universe had briefly stopped in its tracks to watch. As I ran on for my first scene as Oscar, into the arms of Lord Alfred Douglas (played by Freddie Fox), I felt like the crest of a wave crashing on to the stage with all the blinding tragedy of gay history in my wake – the drownings, the burials alive, the hangings, the pillorying – all the tortures invented by man in the name of God. The applause was euphoric at the end of the show, as much for the day itself as for the performance. Finally, homosexual relationships were fully and equally accepted in law. We have come a long way. As Oscar predicted, the road to freedom has been long and smeared with the blood of martyrs, and the fight’s not over yet.”

On gay rights today:

“Today the world has gone full circle. Gay people seem to be doing all the decent things the straights used to do – getting married, having babies and recycling. I feel like an old grandmother, sitting in my rocking chair, writing to you, dear Russell, during a break from my knitting. The past is all twinkling lights in the woods on a snowy night. Was it revolution? Or were we just crashing up and down on a much deeper wave, as history ploughed on regardless? Did everything change in ’67 with the new law? Was Stonewall the defining moment? Were we as free as we felt in the Seventies? Are we as free as we think we are now?”

Read Rupert Everett’s personal story in full in the issue and online on Monday 28 October

 

GARY LINEKER: “WE NEED A PARENTAL REVOLUTION”

Gary Lineker argues in a column for his friend’s guest-edit that pushy parents screaming abuse from the sidelines are killing their kids’ love of football - and ultimately destroying England’s professional chances.

“It’s obvious, then, why we have a long-ball culture: the big lads who can kick it furthest are the ones that stand out. What chance for the diminutive yet gifted midfielder? No chance of him developing his tiki-taka football. The only way to get to the other end of the pitch is to belt it and then belt it again. This madness is only exacerbated by the maniacal parents on the touchline spouting nonsense at their children. The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding. The fear they instil in our promising but sensitive Johnny is utterly depressing. We need a parental cultural revolution. If we could just get them to shut the f*** up and let their children enjoy themselves, you would be staggered at the difference it would make.”

Read Gary Lineker’s column in full in the issue and online here

 

AMANDA PALMER: ARTISTS SHOULD BE DRINKING WITH FANS NOT CULTIVATING MYSTIQUE

The American performer and scourge of the Daily Mail, Amanda Palmer, describes how the movement towards crowd-sourcing artistic projects is bringing about a revolution in the complex artist-audience relationship.

“The artists most fit to survive today no longer equate mystique with artistic credibility. They’re not shaking their cups for scraps; they’re busy drinking with their fans, like the old-school travelling musicians.”

“The ‘shameless’ connection that exists between new-school crowd-funding artists and our fans lies within the wider context of social media, which has led to an increasing level of intimacy. Once you’ve been in a relationship for years (hopefully), shame disintegrates. There’s a difference between asking a stranger for a handout, a friend for a favour, or a customer for a down payment. Crowdfunding artists are generally working in the third category, in the spirit of the second. It’s the blurry line between the two latter categories that makes crowd-funding difficult to explain.”

Read Amanda Palmer in full in the issue and online from 12:00 GMT on Friday 25 October

 

DAVID LYNCH: HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH

Film director David Lynch shares the secrets of transcendental meditation:

“Revolutions are usually associated with violence or force. Transcendental Meditation leads to a beautiful, peaceful revolution. A change from suffering and negativity to happiness and a life more and more free of any problems. The secret has always been within. We just need a technique that works to get us there to unfold a most beautiful future.”

Read David Lynch in full in the issue and online from 14:00 GMT on Friday 25 October

 

ALEC BALDWIN: AMERICANS HAVE BEEN LIED TO

In an impassioned and angry piece, the actor Alec Baldwin considers 50 years of US intelligence and concludes enough is enough.

“The reality that the government is spying on Americans on a wholesale level, seemingly indiscriminately, doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, given the assumed imperatives of the post-9/11 security state. People seem more stricken by the fact that Barack Obama, who once vowed to close Guantanamo, has adopted CIA-NSA policies regarding domestic spying, as well as by government attempts to silence, even hunt down, the press. Americans, in terms of their enthusiasm for defending their beloved democratic principles in the face of an ever more muscular assault on those principles by the state in the name of national security, are exhausted.”

Read Alec Baldwin’s piece in full in the issue and online from 16:00 GMT on Thursday 24 October

 

WHAT DOES REVOLUTION MEAN TO YOU?

Russell Brand asks thinkers, artists and dissidents including Judd Apatow, Ai Weiwei, Oliver Stone, and Peter Kuznick what Revolution means to them.

Judd Apatow, film-maker:

“Comedy itself is revolutionary. When done well, it challenges stale ideas, opens minds and brings delight.”

Ai Weiwei, artist and dissident:

“The revolution is a bridge that connects the past and the future. It is necessary, unpredictable and inevitable.”

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, film-makers:

“A world in which the richest 300 people have more wealth than the poorest three billion, in which the US maintains perhaps 700 overseas military bases and spends almost as much on military and intelligence as the rest of the world combined, and in which greed and the lust for power are privileged over creativity, kindness, and generosity, is a world gone astray – one that demands revolutionary transformation of the deepest and most profound sort.”

Read Martha Lane Fox, Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, Evgeny Lebedev and Molly Crabapple on Revolution in the issue

PLUS

The NS’s Michael Prodger interviews Turner-nominated artist David Shrigley

Screenwriter and producer Diablo Cody on the existence of alien life

Will Self on why he’d “walk a c**ty mile” to avoid Jamie Oliver’s Diner

David Grylls reviews the second volume of Mark Twain’s cantankerous autobiography

The Russell Brand issue (dated 25-31 October, cover price £3.50) will be on sale in London on Thursday 24 October and in the rest of the country from Friday 25 October. International buyers can obtain copies through our website: www.newstatesman.com/russellbrand

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Tony Blair might be a toxic figure - but his influence endures

Politicians at home and abroad are borrowing from the former prime minister's playbook. 

On 24 May at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a short distance from where he once governed, Tony Blair resurfaced for a public discussion. Having arrived on an overnight flight, he looked drawn and puffy-eyed but soon warmed to his theme: a robust defence of liberal globalisation. He admitted, however, to bafflement at recent events in the world. "I thought I was pretty good at politics. But I look at politics today and I’m not sure I understand it."

Blair lost power in the summer of 2007. In the ensuing nine years, he lost reputation. His business ventures and alliances with autocrats have made him a pariah among both the public and his party. A YouGov poll published last year found that 61 per cent of voters regarded Blair as an electoral liability, while just 14 per cent viewed him as an asset. In contrast, John Major, whom he defeated by a landslide in 1997, had a neutral net rating of zero. It is ever harder to recall that Blair won not one general election (he is the only living Labour leader to have done so) but three.

His standing is likely to diminish further when the Iraq inquiry report is published on 6 July. Advance leaks to the Sunday Times suggest that he will be censured for allegedly guaranteeing British military support to the US a year before the invasion. Few minds on either side will be changed by the 2.6 million-word document. Yet its publication will help enshrine Iraq as the defining feature of a legacy that also includes the minimum wage, tax credits, Sure Start, devolution and civil partnerships.

Former leaders can ordinarily rely on their parties to act as a last line of defence. In Blair’s case, however, much of the greatest opprobrium comes from his own side. Jeremy Corbyn inclines to the view that Iraq was not merely a blunder but a crime. In last year’s Labour leadership election, Liz Kendall, the most Blair-esque candidate, was rewarded with 4.5 per cent of the vote. The former prime minister’s imprimatur has become the political equivalent of the black spot.

Yet outside of the Labour leadership, Blairism endures in notable and often surprising forms. Sadiq Khan won the party’s London mayoral selection by running to the left of Tessa Jowell, one of Tony Blair’s closest allies. But his successful campaign against Zac Goldsmith drew lessons from Blair’s election triumphs. Khan relentlessly presented himself as “pro-business” and reached out beyond Labour’s core vote. After his victory, he was liberated to use the B-word, contrasting what “Tony Blair did [in opposition]” with Corbyn’s approach.

In their defence of the UK’s EU membership, David Cameron and George Osborne have deployed arguments once advanced by New Labour. The strategically minded Chancellor has forged an unlikely friendship with his former nemesis Peter Mandelson. In the domestic sphere, through equal marriage, the National Living Wage and the 0.7 per cent overseas aid target, the Conservatives have built on, rather than dismantled, significant Labour achievements."They just swallowed the entire manual," Mandelson declared at a recent King’s College seminar. "They didn’t just read the executive summary, they are following the whole thing to the letter."

Among SNP supporters, "Blairite" is the pejorative of choice. But the parallels between their party and New Labour are more suggestive than they would wish. Like Blair, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have avoided income tax rises in order to retain the support of middle-class Scottish conservatives. In a speech last August on education, Sturgeon echoed the Blairite mantra that "what matters is what works".

Beyond British shores, political leaders are similarly inspired by Blair – and less reticent about acknowledging as much. Matteo Renzi, the 41-year-old centre-left Italian prime minister, is a long-standing admirer. "I adore one of his sayings,” he remarked in 2013. “I love all the traditions of my party, except one: that of losing elections."

In France, the reform-minded prime minister, Manuel Valls, and the minister of economy, Emmanuel Macron, are also self-described Blairites. Macron, who in April launched his own political movement, En Marche!, will shortly decide whether to challenge for the presidency next year. When he was compared to Blair by the TV presenter Andrew Marr, his response reflected the former prime minister’s diminished domestic reputation: “I don’t know if, in your mouth, that is a promise or a threat.”

The continuing attraction of Blair’s “third way” to European politicians reflects the failure of the project’s social-democratic critics to construct an alternative. Those who have sought to do so have struggled both in office (François Hollande) and out of it (Ed Miliband). The left is increasingly polarised between reformers and radicals (Corbyn, Syriza, Podemos), with those in between straining for relevance.

Despite his long absences from Britain, Blair’s friends say that he remains immersed in the intricacies of Labour politics. He has privately warned MPs that any attempt to keep Corbyn off the ballot in the event of a leadership challenge would be overruled by the National Executive Committee. At Methodist Central Hall, he said of Corbyn’s supporters: “It’s clear they can take over a political party. What’s not clear to me is whether they can take over a country.”

It was Blair’s insufficient devotion to the former task that enabled the revival of the left. As Alastair Campbell recently acknowledged: “We failed to develop talent, failed to cement organisational and cultural change in the party and failed to secure our legacy.” Rather than effecting a permanent realignment, as the right of the party hoped and the left feared, New Labour failed to outlive its creators.

It instead endures in a fragmented form as politicians at home and abroad co-opt its defining features: its pro-business pragmatism, its big-tent electoralism, its presentational nous. Some of Corbyn’s ­allies privately fear that Labour will one day re-embrace Blairism. But its new adherents would never dare to use that name.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad